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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  December 24, 2012 3:00am-4:00am PST

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>> announcer: from nbc news in washington, the world's longest running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. >> good sunday morning. it's been nine days since the
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tragic shooting at sandy hook elementary in newtown, connecticut and the debate over gun control has been revived. here with us exclusively this morning, the man at the center of that debate, the ceo and executive vice president of the nra, wayne lapierre. answering questions for the first time since this shooting. i want to get right to it. welcome back to the program. >> thank you, david. >> you promised in the wake of this massacre 26 people murdered that the nra would, quote, offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. if we boil down your appearance before the news media on friday, this was your message. >> the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. >> you proposed armed guards in school. we'll talk about that in some detail in a moment. you confronted the news media, you blamed hollywood and the gaming industry but never once did you concede that guns could actually be part of the problem. is that a meaningful contribution, mr. lapierre, or a
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dodge? >> david, i said what i honestly thought and what hundreds of millions of people all over this country will believe will actually make a difference. i can't imagine a more horrible tragedy than what happened. we all have 5-year-olds in our family in some way. we all put ourselves in that situation and the tears flow down our eyes. the nra made up of all these moms, dads, parents, we have 11,000 police training instructors, 80,000 members and we set down and we said what can we do will actually make a difference today to make these kids safe? >> but not conceding guns play any role, that's a meaningful contribution? >> look, i know there's a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens, i know there's an anti-second amendment history in this town, for 20 years always try to say it's because americans own guns. i'm telling you what i think will make people safe.
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and what every mom and dad will make them feel better when they drop their kid off at school in january is if we have a police officer in that school, a good guy, that if some horrible monster tries to do something, they'll be there to protect them. >> we'll talk about that in more specifics but you're talking about some of the old complaints you make against the news media and such. nobody said it's only about gun, not the president or anybody else. i'd like to get your reaction to some of friday. a lot of people were frankly shocked by your presentation. he was the "new york post," conservative publication, and there's the headline "gun nut, nra loon in bizarre rant." and "the hartford courant." headline says that the nra's response falls flat. the congressman from the district of newtown, chris murphy "walking out of another funeral and was handed the nra statement. the most tone deaf statement i've ever seen. just the reaction to the reaction to your words? >> if it's crazy to call for putting police and armed
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security in our schools, then call me crazy. i think the american people think it's crazy not to do it. it's the one thing that will keep people safe, and the nra is going to try to do that. we're going to support an immediate appropriation before congress to put police officers in every school and we're going to work with asa hutchinson who has agreed to work with us to put together a voluntary program drawing on retired military, drawing on retired police, on former secret service, on all of these people that can actually go in and make our kids safe. that's the one thing that we can do. >> the one and only thing? you don't think guns should be part of the conversation. >> i think that's the one thing that will immediately make our children safe. >> is it the only thing? >> gun control, you could ban all dianne feinstein, do whatever she wants to with magazines, it's not going to make any kid safer. we got to get to the real
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problem, the real causes and that's what the nra is trying to do, and i think, i'll tell you this, i have people all over the country calling me saying, wayne, i went to bed safer last night because i have a firearm. don't let the media try to make this a gun issue. >> that's argument, not fact. >> it is fact. >> a feeling is not fact. a feeling is a sense of reassurance, that's not what you're presenting. let's talk more specifically about what you're talking about, armed guards in school. there are successful examples. fairfax county, virginia has student resource officers. i'm sure you know a lot about that program. there are examples where it hasn't worked. the columbine tragedy, virginia tech, there were armed guards there. it didn't stop the tragedy. >> there were armed guards there and they didn't go in. they were under orders that if something happened they were to call the police for backup. >> they exchanged fire with the shooters. >> they waited for the s.w.a.t.
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team to show up and the s.w.a.t. team sat outside and tried to figure out what to do. every procedure has been changed as a result of that. >> they exchanged fire with the shooters. your principle of having armed guard was true at columbine, was it not? >> they've changed every police procedure since columbine. i don't understand why you can't just for a minute imagine that when that horrible monster tried to shoot his way into sandy hook school that if a good guy with a gun had been there, he might have been able to stop him. >> i'm just trying to test your views here, mr. lapierre about how it would actually work. how many do you think you have to have on campus and where? is it sufficient to have them at the front of the school? >> that's up to our police. our police do this every day. they protect the president, the secret service does. they protect the capitol, they protect office buildings. most of the media -- i know you don't have armed guards here but most of the media when i go around this country, they're protected by armed guards. why can't we protect our most precious resource.
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there was a secret service study that was done. you know what it showed? it showed that the police trying to get there in time only stop 25% of the shooters. the rest of them are either stopped by somebody in the system or they turn the gun on themselves. that's a pretty darn good argument for putting a good guy in the system somewhere with a gun to help our kids. >> again, it may be the case. do you allow volunteers or do they have to be police officers? would you have volunteer forces there? >> i think you need police immediately because that's something that we can get done and i think what congressman asa hutchinson is going to look to do, and he got there long before we called him, deputy director of home land security, he's going to put together a program like they had in israel. israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing. they said we're going to stop it and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then. let's make our kids safe. let's not argue about this
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enedless argument about gun control. >> would you concede as good of an idea as you think this is, it may not work because there have been cases where armed guards have not prevented this kind of massacre, this kind of carnage. you would concede that point, wouldn't you? >> i'm saying that if i'm a mom or a dad -- >> you're saying we ought to try. >> and i'm dropping my child off at school, i feel a whole lot safer with these great men and women on police forces. >> you have to concede it may not work. >> nothing's perfect, david but, gosh, it's going to be better -- >> who pays? a third of the school already have armed policemen or armed guard there. would the nra be prepared to help financially? is it a budgetary matter feasible? would federal grants be necessary to provide this kind of fire power? >> we have all kinds of foreign aid we do. my gosh, we're doing $2 billion to train the police in iraq right now. with all the money in the federal budget, if we can't come up to do this, there's something wrong. the nra will. we fund the child safety program right now as a model of the school for kids too young to be around guns.
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it teaches them if you see a gun, stop, leave the area. call an adult. written by the best child psychologist experts in the country. we have child accidents down to the lowest level ever in u.s. history. >> here's something you said on friday that struck me because this is really the nub of the argument about armed security. >> what if when adam lanza started shooting his way into sandy hook elementary school last friday, he'd been confronted by a qualified armed security? will you at least admit it's possible that 26 little kids, that 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day? is it so abhorrent to you that you'd rather continue to risk the alternative? >> because that's your standard is that fewer people should be
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killed. that's the goal here. and the standard is if it's possible, your words, if it's possible that lives could be spared, shouldn't we try that. that's your standard, isn't it? >> i'll tell you my standard is this -- you can't legislate morality. legislation works on the sane, legislation works on the law abiding. it doesn't work on criminals -- >> if it's possible to reduce the loss of life, you're up for trying it? >> there are monsters out there every day and we need to do something to stop them. >> if it's possible to reduce the loss of life, you're worth trying it, correct? >> if it's possible to reduce -- >> that's what you said. >> i want it. that's what i'm proposing. >> let's stipulate you're right. let's say armed guards might work. let's widen the argument a little bit. here is a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets. isn't it possible that if we got rid of these, if we replaced them and said can you only have a magazine that carries five bullets or ten bullets, isn't it just possible we could reduce the carnage in a situation like -- >> i don't believe that's going to make one difference. there are so many ways to evade that.
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even if you had that. you had that for ten years when dianne feinstein passed that ban in '94, it was on the books. columbine occurred right in the middle of it. it didn't make any difference. i know everyone -- this town wants to argue about gun control. i don't think it's what will work. what will work is this, i'll tell you this -- >> this is a matter of logic. anybody watching this is going to say i just heard mr. lapierre say the standard is we should try anything that might reduce the violence and you're telling me it's not a matter of common sense that if you don't have an ability to shoot off 30 rounds without reloading that just possibly you could reduce the loss of life, that adam lanza may not have been able to shoot as many kids if he didn't have as much ammunition? >> i don't buy your argument. >> it's not possible? >> there are so many different ways he could have done it. there's endless amount of ways a monster can do it. >> don't take it from me. here is a jed judge, a gun owner and supports the nra, here is what he wrote in the "los angeles times."
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"bystanders got to tucson shooter jerrod loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another. adam lanza, the newtown shooter, chose his primary weapon. i get it. someone bent on mass murder who has only a ten-round magazine or revolvers at his disposal probably is not going to abandon his plan and try to talk his problems out. but we might be able to take the "mass" out of mass shooting or at least make the perpetrator's job a bit harder. >> i don't think it will. i keep saying it and you just won't accept it. it's not going to work. it hasn't worked. dianne feinstein had her ban and columbine happened. i'll tell what you would work. we have a mental health system in this country that's completely collapsed. we have no national database of these lunatics. 23 states -- how long ago was virginia tech?
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23 states are still putting only a small number of records into the system, and a lot of states are putting in none. so when they go through the national instant check system and they go to try to screen out one of those lunatics, the records are not even in the system. i talked to a police officer the other day, he said, wayne, every police officer walking the street knows some lunatic out there, some mentally disturbed person that ought to be in an institution is out walking the street because they dealt with the institutional side, they didn't want mentally ill in institutions so they put them all back on the street and nobody thought what happens when you put all these mentally ill people back on the streets and what happens when they start taking their medicine? we have a completely cracked mentally ill system that's got these monsters walking the streets and we've got to deal with the underlying causes and connections if we're ever going to get to the truth in this country and stop this. >> a lot of people would agree with that, there a lot of difficulties with regard to getting that kind of mental health information because there's privacy laws, states not contributing to a national
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registry. isn't part of the issue background checks? you got 40% of sales that go on without any background checks. are you prepared for broader background checks if you don't think the ammunition road is the way to go? >> we have backed the national instant check system, backed putting anybody mentally adjudicated into the system. you're going to go into the oh, it's a gun show loophole. it's illegal for felons to do anything like that to buy guns. what the anti-second amendment movement wants to do is put every gun sale in the country under the thumb of the federal government. congress debated this at length. they said if you're a -- a hobbyist or collector, a hunter in virginia wants to sell the gun to another hunter, they ought to be able to do it without being under the thumb of the federal government. >> if you want to check and screen more thoroughly for the mentally ill, why not screen more thoroughly for everybody and eliminate the fact that 40% can buy a weapon without any background check?
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>> we don't prosecute anybody under the gun laws right now. >> that's not responsive to the question, mr. lapierre. i hear you saying you can't do anything about high capacity ammunition magazines because it simply won't work yet you're proposing things that might not work. you're into the art of the possible because your standard is anything that has a chance of working, we ought to try except when it comes to guns or ammunition. don't you see that people see that as a complete dodge? >> nra supports what works. we funded the child safety program. we have accidents down to one-tenth of what they used to have. we have supported prison building, supported projects where every time you catch a criminal with a gun, a drug dealer with a gun, a violent felon with a gun, you prosecute them 100% of the time. if you want to control violent criminals, take them off the streets. that's what every police officer out there knowses works.
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we supported instant check systems, getting the records into the instant check system. >> even the instant check system has huge holes just like the mental health registry. >> the biggest single hole right now if you're a felon and you walk into a gun store and you try to buy a gun and they go, oh, you're a felon and we're going to turn you down, they let you walk out and they don't prosecute you. it's like bonnie and clyde. it's like clyde goes in and tries to buy a gun. he goes back to bonnie and said i got bad news, they didn't sell me a gun. the good news is they let me go, they didn't do anything to me. they go about and commit their crime. >> is senator feinstein's bill to revive the gun ban, the assault weapons ban, going to pass? >> i think that is phoney legislation. i do not believe it will pass for this reason. it's all built on lies. my gosh, people in the media, i revere their communication skills but they have an obligation to be factually truthful. everything these politicians are
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saying about that is not true. they say these guns are more powerful, not true, that they leave bigger holes, not true, that they're weapons of war, not true. everything they're say iing -- they say they're military guns lake our soldiers say, not true. >> i haven't said any of those things this morning. >> i know. >> our conversation is about what i'm asking. you think it won't pass and you wouldn't support any reduction of capacity magazines? >> we don't think it works and we're not going to support it. i was in a cnn studio and they started running this footage of somebody shooting dianne feinstein's guns and saying these are the guns the nra wants to put back on the streets. i said i challenge the man from cnn to defend this story because you faked the story. they went to the range the following monday and showed the fire arms that were on dianne feinstein's ban list shoot no different and perform no different than the one she doesn't want.
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it's all a lie. >> what about being part of this panel by the president. are you interested in a conversation with the administration about gun safety measures? >> if it's gun safety i think the best person to represent the nra is congressman asa hutchinson on that. if it's a panel that's just going to be made up of a bunch of people that for the last 20 years have been trying to destroy the second amendment, i'm not interested in sitting on that panel. the american people support the freedom. >> is there any new gun regulation that you could support? >> i'll tell what you would work right now. tomorrow morning, and the nra would be there every step of the way, if president obama would walk in and tell the attorney general of the united states to tell every u.s. attorney if you catch a drug dealer on the street with a gun, prosecute him and take him off the street, violent felon, violent criminal, take him off the street.
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>> so there's no new gun regulation you would support? >> this is what would work. >> i'm asking you a direct question. is there any new drug regulation you would support? if there's a new gun regulation, after the debates of the '90s and so forth, are today, could we make the assault weapon ban better, any more effective? >> you want one more law on top of 20,000 laws when most of the federal gun laws we don't even enforce. if every u.s. attorney would do only ten cases a month, that would be 12,000 cases. if they would do 20 a month, it would be 24,000 cases. that would get the worst people in the country that are killing people off the street. right now, david, do you know how many cases we're doing in the whole country on prosecuting under all the federal gun laws? take a guess. take a guess. >> you tell me. >> 6,000. it's pitiful. and the drug dealers and the gangs and the criminals know it and they go about their business
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and there are 25,000 violent crimes a week in the country and at the scene of the crime is the criminal and -- >> isn't it striking, mr. lapierre, that your goal is to reduce violence in this country and i think back to the reaction after the oklahoma city bombing, the reaction after 9/11. nobody said there was one thing that was going to work. look at how extensive the federal government actions they thought, some worked, some don't. but the feeling was they were worth trying. that was your standard. that's what you said on friday. if it's worth trying, why not do it. that's your position on armed guards and a lot of people would agree with you yet nothing will having to do with gun safety and you seem to excuse the role that guns play in violence in this society. >> the gun is the tool. the problem is the criminal. every police officer that walks the street knows if you want to control violent crime, take violent criminals off the street. you have programs like richmond, virginia, they had one
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of the worst murder rates in the country until they put out the word if you're a drug dealer on the street with a gun, we're going to pick you up and you're going to federal prison. they changed criminal behavior in that town. they immediately cut murder with guns by about 60%, 70%. that's what works. criminals operate outside the system. lunatics could care less. you got to get them off the street and into treatment. we're not doing this in this country. >> has the environment changed, mr. lapierre? the supreme court has confirmed gun owner rights in this country, mayor bloomberg was on the program last week saying you tried to get the president not to be re-elected. you failed in that effort. he said you don't have the clout that you had politically in this town in past debates. >> the american people, i know one thing about them, they value their freedom. when the reality of the consequences of what the politicians in this town and the media and elites want to do to their rights and take them away, i think they'll do what they've done historically, defend the freedom.
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the american public knows the scene of the crime, it's a criminal and a victim. all these politicians aren't there. they see people like mayor bloomberg, new york city, if you're rich and you're famous you get your permit, if you're a .300 hitter with the mets, you get a permit, a big developer, you get a permit, wall street executive, you get a permit, the mayor's buddy, you get your permit. if you're a guy in the bronx, most in need of protection, you're flat out of luck. we're about the average guy, the noncelebrity, the non .300 hitter. we're about the nondeveloper. the average guy in the country values his freedom, doesn't believe he can own a gun as part of the problem and doesn't like the media and high-profile politicians blaming him -- >> do you have the same clout you've always had politically? >> our support is always the americans people, decade in and out. the strength of the nra is the
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american public and i believe they are on our side to defend freedom. >> bottom line, if there is an approach after newtown that includes mental health, that includes gratuitous violence in our media, in our gaming industry and includes gun regulations, will you support it or oppose it? >> we are going to support what works, putting an armed guard in every single school, we're going to try to fix the mental health system, we want people prosecuted, and we're going to protect the american people i think that's why people join the nra to protect their freedom. >> mr. lapierre, thank you for your views. >> thank you for having me. >> coming up, does the gun control debate have new momentum or will it suffer the same fate it has in the past? joining me democratic senator chuck schumer and republicans senator lindsey graham. plus, eight days before the fiscal cliff. what are prospects for a deal.
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since we announced we were going to have the nra's wayne lapierre on the program, we received so much feedback on line, thougs of you september us tweets and comments on our facebook page, more than 40,000 saw this post alone. we'll continue to monitor that conversation online. tell us what you thought on the interview at or on twitter #mtp. in the meantime, we're going to find out what these two gentlemen thought when we come back, senators chuck schumer and lindsey graham with reaction right after this short break. [ male announcer ] it's that time of year again. time for citi price rewind. because your daughter really wants that pink castle thing.
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we're back with senator chuck schumer of new york and
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lindsey graham of south carolina. senator schumer, your reaction to wayne lapierre. he is saying any attempt the president makes at gun control legislation is bound to fail because it won't work and it's just a bunch of old arguments. how do you react? >> i think he's so extreme and so tone deaf that he actually helps the cause of us passing sensible gun legislation in the congress. look, he blames everything but guns -- movies, the media, president obama, gun-free school zones, you name it, the video games, he blames them. now, trying to prevent shootings in schools without talking about guns is like trying to prevent lung cancer without talking about cigarettes. he is so doctrinaire and so adamant that i believe gun owners turn against him as well. look, he says the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. what about trying to stop the bad guy from getting the gun in the first place. that's common sense, most americans agree with it and i just think he's turning people off. that's not where america is at and he's actually helping us. >> senator graham, there are nra
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supporters, colleagues in the senate who are saying, look, let's not just make this a conversation about guns, it's got to be a broader conversation but i heard wayne lapierre say, no, he will not sign on to any new gun legislation. do you agree with him? >> well, the first conversation we should have is how heartbroken we are as americans. i don't think there's anybody in the country that doesn't feel sick in their stomach. i can't imagine a worse situation than getting a call as a parent saying something that happened at school, a shooting or anything else and you go there and your child is killed. so let's just start with that understanding. here's the conversation, we can talk all day long, we had an armed guard in columbine, an assault ban, neither worked. we're talking about preventing mass murder by nontraditional criminals, people who are not traditionally criminal, who are not wired right for some reason.
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i don't know if there's anything lindsey graham can do in the senate to stop mass murder that's hell bent on murdering -- >> but there's got to be -- that can't be the default of legislators in our country that, there's not a public policy role to address mass violence when we've had the number of mass shootings even since 2007 that are so shock ing the question from wayne lapierre . is what did the assault weapon ban accomplish, preventing access to high-capacity magazines. the fact the that doesn't work is still something you're challenged by if you want to approach this legislation again. >> the amount of gun violence since we passed the assault weapons ban and the brady law is down considerably. is it as good as it should be? absolutely not. but we have to keep working on this. and there are lots of different solutions. the pro-gun people who say don't include guns and the pro safety people like myself who say don't look at other solutions is
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wrong, just as you said on your show. we have to look at a holistic solution. we cannot make the new normal one of these mass shootings every month and that seems to be what's happening. so we should try all kinds of different things. >> so what do you do differently here? the american people have been here before, you had a weapons ban for ten years, it expires. does the president want this fight? if he wants it, how is he going to win it? there a lot of difficulties getting a weapons ban through, questions but who it would work and even banning the high capacity magazines. what do you do differently than what you've done before? >> there are two reasons that i think it can work. how were we able to pass the brady law and assault weapon ban in the mid-'90s? the average citizen was fed up with crime and on our side. because of those laws and other laws crime declined. now that these mass shootings seem to be almost the new normal, almost one a month, i think the broad middle will rise
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up and that will help us. in the last ten years the whole debate has been dominated by the small but militant number 3 million, 4 million nra people in the -- >> do you think politics have changed? as a republican, to you think the nra has the same clout to be absolutist about this, even if it means accepting compromises it may not like and maybe the entertainment industry has to accept compromises they feel fringe upon first amendment rights? >> i own an ar-15. i have it at my house. the question is if you deny me the right to buy another one, do you make america safer? my belief is this is a problem you try to get murderers off the street by better mental health detection, try to find ways to petter understand who they are. i don't suggest we ban every movie with a gun in it and every video that's violent and i don't
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suggest you take my right to buy an ar-15 away from me because i don't think it will work and i do believe better security in schools is a good place to start. >> would you ban high-capacity magazines, though, senator? >> the whole goal is to interrupt the shooter, right? changing a magazine, i can do that pretty quick. the best way to interrupt the shooter is to keep them out of the school and if they get out of the school, having somebody who can interrupt them through armed force. i don't want to sit here and tell you we're one law away from solving this problem. we're not. this problem runs deep and runs wide. i live in south carolina. chuck lives in new york. i understand how he was brought up. maybe he tries to understand how i was brought up. but people where i live out christmas shopping all weekend have come up to me please don't let the government take my guns away and i'm going to stand against another assault ban because it didn't work before and it won't work in the future. >> i know we could talk about this indefinitely. but i want to move on and get to another seemingly intractable debate and that's the fiscal cliff. congress has left town and
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there's no deal here. senator schumer, the president is now proposing a smaller deal. are we going to avoid the fiscal cliff by the first of the year or not? >> i hope so. if you look at the final positions last monday of both the president and speaker boehner, they were this close, they were this close to a solution. the president was about $200 billion higher on revenues, speaker boehner $200 billion higher on spending cuts. out of a $4 trillion budget, that doesn't seem insurmountable. so i hope they would keep talking. my one bit of advice to speaker boehner is this -- you cannot pass a bill with just republicans. on a broad thing like this, you need both and he has put himself with plan b in sort of an impossible position. he has to get these hard right guys to go along with him. if he were to say and the president were to say we're going to pass a bill with a majority of democrats and
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a majority of republicans in the house and senate the, we could get a mainstream bill. i know he's worried about his speakership but what i found in my 37 years as a legislator, when you show leadership, when you show redirection and courage, even people who disagree with you will vote for you for speaker. i would urge speaker boehner to abandon this plan b strategy and work on a bipartisan solution. >> senator graham, the question for you is could you vote for a bill that extended tax cuts for $250,000 and below, extend ed unemployment insurance as the president wants to do and in some way delays some of these automatic spending cuts? could you vote for that in the short term? >> no. if you want leaders, then you have to lead. the president has been a pathetic fiscal leader. he's produced three budgets and can't get one vote for any of his budgets. boehner will be tip o'neill. obama needs to be ronald reagan. here's what i would vote for. i would vote for revenues, including tax rate hikes, even though i don't like them to save
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the country from becoming greece but i'm not going to set aside the $1.2 trillion in cuts. any hope of going over the fiscal cliff must start in the senate. not one democrat would support the idea that we could protect 99% of americans from a tax increase. boehner's plan b i thought made sense. to my republican colleagues, the ronald reagan model is if you get 80% of what you want, that's a good day. we have the same objective of more taxes. i like simpson-bowles. eliminate deductions, more rates, put money on the debt. tax rate hikes are a partisan solution driven by the president. but he's going to get tax rate hikes. to my republican colleagues, if we can protect 99% of the public from a tax hike, that is not a tax increase in my book. chuck, maybe you and me and some other people in the senate can find a way to find this on the short term but on the long term there's not going to be a deal any time soon. >> you think we're going to go over the cliff? >> i think we're going to fall out of the fiscal tree. there will not be a big deal. the big chance at the big deal
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is at the debt ceiling. that's when we'll have leverage to turn the country around, prevent from becoming greece and save social security and medicare. to anybody listening, i will raise the debt ceiling only if we save medicare and social security from insolvency and prevent this country from becoming greece. no more borrowing. why we're in debt to begin with. >> let me say this. i don't think that using the debt ceiling and defaulting on our debt, my dear friend lindsey graham, one of my best friends in the senate, is the way to go. that's risking the united states. the president has told speaker boehner and told the country he is no longer going to hold the credit of the united states so someone can achieve a political agenda. so don't even count on bargaining over a debt ceiling. on taxes, i know it's hard for the republicans but the president ran on that platform, $250,000, no tax increase for people below but taxes for people above. he won.
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60% of the voters said they were for it in the exit polls, including some republicans and yet our republican colleagues by refusing to go along with revenues are risking the fiscal cliff and make no mistake about it. if we go over, god forbid and i still don't think we have to, the american people are going to blame the republican party and they'll come right back and pass something. so i don't think the middle class is at risk. if we go over the cliff, our reamian colleagues will come back and go uh-oh and pass the bill we passed in senate already. >> can chuck hagel become secretary of defense if he's the president's nominee? >> a lot of republicans have asked hard questions. i don't think he's going to get many republicans votes. i like chuck but his positions are really out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president. i think it would be a challenging nominations but the hearings will matter. chuck will have a chance to defend himself. >> will you support him? >> i'm going to wait and see what happens in the hearings. i've got questions with chuck
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and iran, hamas and hezbollah, his position toward israel, just afghanistan. i want to hear what he has to say. but very troubling comments by a future secretary of defense. >> senator schumer, should the president make that nomination? >> well, that's his choice. i think once he makes it his record will be studied carefully, but until that point i think we're not going to know what's going to happen. >> can you support him? >> i'd have to study his record. i'm not going to comment until the president makes a nomination. >> we're going to leave it there. gentlemen, happy holidays to you both. thank you both very much for your time. i appreciate it. the fiscal cliff talks, cabinet changes, what will define president obama's agenda at the first of the year? and has this last week done damage to john boehner and the republican party? and my round table will join me, representative jason chaffetz, harold ford, jr., andrea mitchell and chuck todd. back in a moment.
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nobody gets a hundred percent of what they want. everybody's got to give a little bit in a sensible way. we move forward together or we don't move forward at all. so as we leave town for a few days to be with our families for the holidays, i hope it gives everybody some perspective. >> that was the president of course. we're back with our roundtable. joining me congress jason chaffetz of utah, former democratic congressman of tennessee, harold ford, jr.,
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chuck todd and nbc correspondent andrea mitchell. welcome to all of you. all right, chuck. we'll talk about guns in a minute. let's talk about the fiscal cliff. are we going to get a deal here? >> we're going to get a small deal. it's a shame. you wonder is the only thing that could change things, the holidays, does it change boehner's mind? does it change the president's mind? i think the president is making a mistake to make a small deal. he should try one more time for the big deal. you had nearly 200 house republicans about to vote to raise taxes on millionaires. that means could you get it up from $400,000 to $750,000? a deal is within reach. he's got to figure out -- i think go one more time. they seem to have had it and they don't want to try boehner one more time but i think they're making a big mistake.
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is he? >> i think john boehner did the right thing. i was supportive of this plan 3w6. my frustration is with the democrats because the house republicans, our conscience is clear. in august we passed a bill to extend all of the tax rates. we did deal with the fiscal cliff issues. we have passed that. it's harry reid and the president that have yet to come up with something. if it was so easy, if they thought they had a solution to it, why didn't on friday they come to the table and actually pass something? the pressure is on them, what can they pass in the senate? >> harold, you know the politics of this but you also know the mark. is there a new pessimism we're not going to get a deal and not going to solve these issues anyway? >> big disappointment. people outside of washington understand clearly. a couple hundred billion over ten years separating both sides. the question becomes can washington still govern itself? two, there's a realization we're in the middle of a small recovery.
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if we find ourselves not able to resolve this moment, it retards and slows and undermines what we see ourselves doing going forward. finally, for the life of me as someone who 0 served there, it was so distressful to watch both sides yell at each other. i feel sorry for speaker boehner. i've seen some of your colleagues who are a little unreasonable and i dare say some democrats who are unreasonable. what does it take to make them come together if they can't come together at this moment as close as they are. >> and to follow up on what harold is saying. durable goods is up, the housing market is beginning to come back. the economy is poised. the market, the stock market is going to react. i can't predict what exactly is going to happen. but chuck is right. the white house should get over its upset with boehner and help bail him out.
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one question about john boehner and eric cantor and the rest of them, if leaders can't count, what can they do. how they went ahead with plan b knowing they didn't have the votes, i mean, that is sort of 101 in politics. >> make them reject one more time. make boehner and the republicans reject one more time. >> there's no real partner here. there's no partner. here's the broader question and it includes the gun debate. what are the president's priorities going to be after the first of the year? congressman, you heard wayne lapierre. does he reflect your views about how to approach any kind of remedy after a massacre like newtown, which is we should talk about everything but guns? >> my wife and i, we have three kids. if there's something that we can do that will make sure that this never ever, ever, ever happens again, of course i'll support it, but i also -- >> come on, there's no standard like that. that's why you try things. that's what public policy is about. >> i'm a concealed permit carrier, i have a glock 23, i have a shotgun.
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there are millions just like me. we're not the problem. i think there's common ground we should be attacking first and foremost is that mental health issue because there are maybe not the laws that we need. maybe there's not the reporting that we need. to say that's already been tackled -- >> has politics changed, harold? you're an nra member. have things changed? is wayne lapierre as you heard him today in sync with the political class on both sides of the aisle today? >> no, he's not in sync with the country. the argument i heard my friend lindsey graham make the argument i have a big gun at home and i'm responsible. it's like saying the speed limit is 55 miles an hour, people should trust me to drive 90. if you don't have magazines that allow you to shoot 40, 50, 100 times, that won't happen. we should all be willing to say for the safety of the country, do i really need a magazine that shoots 100 rounds?
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can i be satisfied with one that shoots six or seven? can i still hunt? we talk about entitlements and tax reform, i think that has to be part of the conversation. i think the majority would say wayne lapierre, you're wrong. let's accept and embrace a different standard. >> you've got 35 states that don't cooperate with the fbi on background checks. you've got states now that permit guns, concealed guns in elementary schools, you've got such a patchwork quilt of states permitting guns and access to guns in places where common sense says they shouldn't be but certainly on these magazines. >> why not a bill that says how about federal grants for armed security in schools, address mental health, i mean, it's a conversation about culture as well as some of these gun restrictions because it sounds like that's not where the administration is headed. >> i don't know how they get it through the house. it was noted in 1994 in a
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democratic-controlled house 216-214 is how the assault weapon ban was in the house, that was democratic controlled house, 258 democrats were in that house of representatives. you're not going to see anything, maybe the magazine clip. i do think the magazine clip you could see some sort of movement there but this goes back to why the president has to get a deal before the end of the year. if the entire year is lost going two months after two months. if it bothers him they didn't get the respect they deserve from boehner, they won the election. i get it. they're never going to get to guns, to energy, to so much they want to do. they've got to figure to get this done in a long-term way. >> i do agree armed guards has merit. >> but not armed teachers. >> when i went to high school in the '80s we had an armed officer. >> you can't go to a meeting in new york without taking your picture and having a security to
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get in the building. >> then the point is why not try reducing the ability of high-capacity magazines? isn't it possible that that could reduce the carnage? >> we tried it for ten years and it didn't work. there are millions -- >> we didn't try magazine limits. >> yes, we did. it was limited to ten. >> how do you know what would have happened? you can't prove a negative. >> the reality is there are millions of them out there. this is a second amendment right. i don't think it would necessarily solve the overall problem. i think the mental health is true. as far as arming everybody in schools and teachers, look, i had high school science teachers who can't negotiate a bunsen burner for goodness sake. i wouldn't suggest that we necessarily give everybody a gun, it's not for everybody. but how we deal with it in utah is going to be way different than how we deal with it in chicago. >> david, one thing that came out of your interview that i
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thought was interesting that the nra i didn't think would ever be on, he was calling for forcing states to participate more. if you're the obama administration and you're looking for the nra's help on something, well, forcing states to participate more on the background checks, all of these things that aren't happening, if the nra is going to do that and force these conservative republican governors to sign legislation that did that, that would be a step. >> andrea, i want to talk about the second term cabinet. chuck hagel did not get a ringing endorsement from senator shum earp schumer or senator gr graham. >> what senator schumer said was really very revealing. if a democratic senator is not going to come to chuck hagel's defense, i think there is serious problems there. >> he did not come to his defense. this is going to be the second consecutive nomination where the president doesn't get his first choice. >> this white house cannot continue to float trial balloons and then not have them shot down. the president can't get what perceived to be rolled by opponents. the problem that chuck hagel has
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is he's now getting shot at from the left and the right because of his past comments, which he has now retracted and apologized for against gays. >> what is the core message of the state of the union? >> well, you tell me if there's a deal at the end of the year. the president has promised to put guns in his state of the union. which by the way, this has been a club that the white house has threatened over boehner, which is saying, hey, you know i'm going to win the political argument and the white house is right but at what cost to the economy? at what cost to his own agenda? >> all right, we'll take a break here and be back in just a moment. power down your little word game. i think your friends will understand. oh no, it's actually my geico app...see? ...i just uh paid my bill. did you really? from the plane? yeah, i can manage my policy, get roadside assistance, pretty much access geico 24/7. sounds a little too good to be true sir. i'll believe that when pigs fly.
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we can live without the &. visit thanks to everyone for a great discussion here. i hope you have a happy holidays. if you're looking for a last-minute christmas gift for the history buff in your family, our new e book makes a perfect stocking stuffer. harold's got a box of them. it's available on itunes, we


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